Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lafite, The Best "French" restaurant in K.L.?

Lionel:Just recently, on the 27th of August to be exact. I dined at Lafite, Shangri La Hotel’s fine

dining French restaurant. It turned out to be the best French? meal I have had in the city. The

cuisine is classic but not heavy. Modern without being fussy or silly.

With a recent slew of new contenders and refurbished favourites, diners are spoilt for choice when it comes to modern European restaurants serving ambrosial cuisines in sharp, swanky settings

Lafite used to be the yardstick for a fine dining in this town. I remember dining in Lafite for the first time somewhere in the early 90’s; it was a romantic restaurant that guaranteed to impress the ladies. I don't recall the finer details of the evening, only that I was enamored with my date and charmed by Chef Stefan Servin's creative French cuisine. Lafite never failed to impress. But it was getting tired.

That is, until the Shangri-La hotel group decided to transform the Restaurant Lafite into something contemporary and modern.

Recently appointed Chef de Cuisine, Damon Campbell now offers you a different level of cuisine. With his signature dishes such as "Inside Out Pizza" which comes with tomato cotton candy and crispy cheese wrapped around a thinly sliced pizza bread and "Caviar Doughnut" which is a delicious mini doughnut beautifully decorated with Oscietra caviar and liquid garnishes of chives, egg yolk and shallots, it is extremely easy to understand, yet so exciting at the same time. And you wonder why didn't I think of that?

Apart from the earlier mentioned dishes, we also tried Chef Damon's Lobster Parmesan. The lobster comes in thick slices, poached with small tomato stew as a base, and to this is poured in a wonderful parmesan spuma or foam. Now, this is where it gets interesting. This is a parmesan based "miracroix" (basically a stock which instead of using chicken or fish bones, it uses parmesan cheese as the base) it is as wonderful as it is expensive! It had lovely cheesy flavours without overwhelming the natural flavours of the lobster meat. Perfectly paired with an Arthur Barolet Chassagne Montrachet, gorgeous.

While the pan fried foie gras was expertly done, it was the clever use of tangy cherry to cut through the oiliness and combining the savoury liver with the sweetness of the cherry meringue that lifted it beyond the ordinary. Paired with a delightful Paul Anheuser Kahlenberg Riesling Spatlese from Nahe in Germany.

Now, normally one does not look forward to the palate cleansers or intermezzo. But this is a fun one. It is a spherification of tropical fruit flavours trapped in an extremely thin casing and looked like an egg yolk served on a porcelain spoon alongside a yuzu sorbet. You just need to pop the whole sphere in your mouth and wait for the explosion of flavours to happen, and then move on to the sorbet which reminds me of a dry Clare Valley Riesling minus the alcohol. Delicious!

There is also the prerequisite walk in cellar with a collection of wines that was recently accorded the Best of Award of Excellence 2008 by Wine Spectator. The Best of Award of Excellence is only awarded to 802 restaurants worldwide out of over 4500 entries.

For mains, we had the Beef -> Broccoli, a rather bland name for a lovely dish of Wagyu beef tenderloin. This is served with naturally sweet broccoli puree and a side of wonderful smoked potatoes, Portobello mushroom and peppercorn gravy, yum. This was served with a lovely red from South Africa named, Diversity. Chris mentioned that this was a wine made by De Toren Cellars, a boutique winery and estate that has risen to cult status for their wines such as Fusion V although I can’t find any mentioned of the wine on their site.

Last but not least was the dessert, now I must admit I have never had a sweet tooth, though I appreciate a good dessert and Chef Damon's "Twisted" Black Forest Cake is a very good one. Imagine if you can deconstruct a Black Forest cake, all the main parts separated! Scrumptious. Am not sure about the wine selected here, although the Sauternes itself was excellent, pairing it with the black forest was maybe asking a bit too much.

This wonderful thing about this subtle cuisine is that it gives great wine room to shine. The 600+ selection list, offers plenty to choose from, especially in Bordeaux. It's deep in Chateau Lafite of course but also other stars such as Chateau Latour, Chateau LaFleur Petrus, and M. Chapoutiers La Modoree. Classic French is the principal strength, but there are verticals of Australia's Grange and Napa's Chateau Montelena, plus an extensive if slightly quirky range of Australian wines.

And as amazing as it may sound, wine lovers will find great value in Lafite's wine list. While I wished that I had deep pockets as I went through the list, I was pleasantly surprised to find lovely value in a Chateau Dufort Vivens 2003 at RM290 and even a Chateau Ausone 1990 at RM3, 850 is a steal.

Furthermore, the restaurant has a corkage policy which is great because it allows wine lovers like me the option of bringing a special bottle for that special occasion. On top of that they will even waive the corkage per bottle for every bottle purchased from their wine list. Now that is what I call a wine friendly policy! Unlike a particular well known steak house in the city that doesn't allow any wine brought in when their list doesn't have half the length and breathe of Lafite's.

1 comment:

Best French Restaurant ? said...

Looks awesome mate. Am in KL right now and I just made an reservation here.